I've been following trials since OJ Simpson and have shared my opinions on any number of message boards and here on Trials & Tribulations. Thanks to the Casey Anthony murder case, I have had the rare opportunity to follow the original crime as well as all of the trial preparation materials made available to the public under the Florida Sunshine Laws.
I have had some legal training with some fine attorneys, but I am mainly an educator with a firm grip on the use of the English language. When I read the motions, I focus mainly on the common sense as well as all I have learned through training, research, and many hours of trial watching and reporting.
That being said, I can assure you that I have no crystal ball as to the outcome of these motions. I do have a feeling, however, that the results will be a mixed bag.
The first motion, the Omnibus Motion To Exclude Heresay Evidence, Gossip, And Innuendo is accompanied by a Memorandum Of Law and a 24-page table of Compiled Hearsay Statements. This is unlike anything I have ever heard of. The defense obviously set their student volunteers to reading every document, every interview,every deposition submitted in discovery, the transcripts of Cindy Anthony's 911 calls and combed them for every possible heresay statement! If you go to the link, rotate the text and read a few items, you will get the general idea.
Now, in the motion, the defense admits that there are exceptions to the heresay rule, but wants the judge to rule all these or many of these statements inadmissible in court. Somehow, I don't thing that is going to happen.
First, Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton, are fine attorneys who know how to deal with heresay! In addition, not everything that is in the interviews and depositions will be brought up at trial. If so, the trial could take years and years. Also, most of the information on the chart can be brought into the trial by asking the appropriate witness.
For example, on the third page of the chart, there are two of statements that Yuri Melich made to Leonard Turtora concerning phone calls he made to Cindy Anthony and possibly Zenaida Gonzalez. Well, why on earth would any self-respecting attorney ask Turtora what Melich did when Melich himself is a witness in the case? One of the two is labeled "double heresay" because it is assumed that Melich told Turtora what Cindy said. Come trial time, Drane Burdick or Ashton could ask (if it was necessary in trial) who he called. While Melich probably can't say what Cindy told him, he can say what he did as a result of the call.
Second, I can't imagine Judge Strickland holding a marathon hearing and going through those 24 pages of supposed heresay and hearing arguments on each item.
The most amazing part of the motion and memorandum comes in when discussing Cindy Anthony's 911 calls. The defense wants them out of the case for very understandable reasons. I am surprised, however, that they have not asked to have the very first phone call excluded as well! In that call, Cindy inadvertently broadcasts her threat to take custody of Caylee as well as accusing Casey of auto theft and thefts for which she has bank records. The phone calls the defense references are actually the 2nd and 3rd calls.
At this point, it would be a good idea to listen to the all 3 phone calls to refresh your memory.
The discussion of the calls begins on page 4 and continues on for a few more pages. I'd highly recommend reading all the text, but I'll pull out some snips and pieces for the sake of the discussion. I will also omit references and just include the basic text.
Cynthia Anthony's calls were made under calm circumstances. She informed the 911 operator that she wanted her daughter to be arrested for stealing money and a car that had already been returned. (pp. 4-5)
Actually, the "first" call was relatively calm. Cindy would later state that she was just trying to "scare" Casey into telling her where Caylee was.
By the "second" call, Cindy had learned that Caylee had been missing for 31 days and that the nanny supposedly kidnapped her. I believe at this point Cindy finally put the putrid odor and her missing granddaughter into perspective and totally panicked . Nevertheless, the defense writes,
Cynthia Anthony is more agitated and upset during this call. Bet despite the fact that she says she just found out that her granddaughter had been taken and is missing, the fact remains that the child had been missing for a month and Cynthia Anthony was aware of that fact. (p. 5)
Hello? Cindy had just learned that the child had been supposedly kidnapped! Yes, she was aware that Caylee had been out of the house for a month... but kidnapped?
There is nothing the police can respond to at the house, as the child has already been missing for a long period of time. They can only ask what happened to establish facts about the crime. (p. 5)
There was something the police could do and they did respond to at the house. That's why all those police officers came to Hopespring Drive to interview Casey. By the next morning, the detectives had a rather large number of facts about the crime, all of them lies by the missing child's mother. When the defense later goes into some details that a "nanny" was named as the suspect, the defense nicely leaves out the fact that when Cindy reported the situation she thought the "nanny" was the criminal and it turned out that it was her daughter who was charged with the crime. It's called karma!
Factors a judge should consider to determine whether the necessary excitement or stress is present are the age of the declarant, the physical and mental condition of the defendant, the characteristics of the event and the subject matter of the statements. Cindy Anthony is not a child, in good physical and mental health, and even though she found out upsetting news the subject matter of the calls are things she had been dealing with for some time. The same considerations are true for Casey Anthony, and though she is younger she was not in danger of any physical harm at the time of making the call and calmly explained the events to the 911 operator. (p. 7)
The defense has clearly shown what their strategy at trial is going to be in this little snippet. They indicate that Cindy, as a well-balanced, healthy, mature adult could easily swallow the concept of her granddaughter being missing so that the second call, while somewhat stressful, is not an excited utterance!
As for Casey's lack of concern when speaking to the 911 operator, the defense attributes that to the fact that she's known her daughter has been missing for a month! Unbelievable.
I have a feeling we will soon have a motion to bar Casey's first call home because Casey knows police are on the case and it is normal for her to want to talk to her boyfriend!
I don't think this motion will get past the judge...
The next motion is the Motion To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony. The defense is attempting to keep out any information that would show Casey in a bad light.
2. In these interviews, law enforcement repeatedly solicited--and Miss Anthony's friends and acquaintances repeatedly offered--their opinions as to Miss Anthony's overall character, motives and undisclosed intentions, and character for truthfulness.
The motion continues by saying that some of the people who spoke to LE went to the media and spoke of Casey's character. The memorandum that is attached to the motion goes into details about the situation, specifically mentioning media appearances or statements made by Jesse Grund, Chris Stutz, Amy Huizenga, and Rick Plesea, Cindy Anthony's brother.
In addition, the toss in Yuri Melich. Do you remember the interview at Universal? Melich and John Allen confront Casey over all the lies she told them. The fact is, Casey admits that she lied, although she doesn't back off from the Zanny the Nanny story.
As with the "heresay" motion, there are probably items in this motion that the judge might grant. I doubt any witness would be able to attribute a motivation to the crime. That's the prosecution's job! The motive will be thick in opening and closing arguments, no doubt about it. They aren't testimony.
As for Casey's propensity for lying. I can't imagine how this will never come out at trial. She lied to the police, she lied to her friends, she lied to everyone. She lied about Sawgrass, she lied about getting the house, she lied about her whereabouts. Probably the best witness to Casey's lies will actually be her mother, who, almost incessantly told LE and the State Casey's various cover stories. Lying was (and probably still is) a way of life for her. Even Judge Strickland indicated such when, at the bond hearing, he said, "The truth and Ms. Anthony are strangers".
The last motion filed yesterday was the Motion To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence of Party Pictures with the Memorandum Supporting Party Picture Motion. This is a more typical motion one would expect in such a trial. The defense clearly doesn't want all the party pictures of Casey allowed into evidence. Their reasons are quite clear as indicated in the memorandum.
The photographs at issue in this case depict Miss Anthony drinking alcohol, wearing revealing clothing, and dancing on stages at nightclubs. They also depict her in close contact with a number of different men and women as she dances. Some of the photos depict Miss Anthony at a party, wearing nothing but an American flag costume. Still others depict Miss Anthony appearing to be intoxicated. These photographs do not bear on a single issue in this case. Their only value is to paint a picture to the jury of an irresponsible, drunken, promiscuous, and wild defendant. (p. 4)
The defense indicates that the Fusian pictures are not even necessary as witnesses can attest to Casey Anthony's presence there and her behavior.
The judge will certainly not allow in every single photo that has been in the media. It wouldn't surprise me if allows one or two from Fusian. He will have to way the probative value of the pictures allowed in as compared to the prejudicial value to the defendant.
Well, we're on to the release of more documents tomorrow! I'm sure we are all anxious to see what the Sunshine Laws have to offer up.